The federal government is investing $2.3 million to learn more about the impacts of plastic pollution on the natural environment and human health. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

The federal government is investing $2.3 million to learn more about the impacts of plastic pollution on the natural environment and human health. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Fed offers $2.3 million for plastics-based scientific research

Announcement made during Vancouver’s virtual Zero Waste Conference

The federal government has stepped up its war on plastic pollution, committing $2.3-million to learn more about its impacts on the natural environment and human health.

The funding will be channeled to 16 science-based research projects to fill knowledge gaps in its recently released study supporting a ban on most single-use plastics next year.

Peter Schiefke, parliamentary secretary to the minister of environment and climate change, made the announcement during a panel discussion at the virtual Zero Waste Conference in Vancouver Nov. 13.

“Plastic pollution is everywhere,” he said. “As home to the world’s longest coastline and one-fifth of the world’s fresh water, Canada is a huge player and has a huge stake in addressing this challenge.”

READ MORE: Regional district to participate in an Agricultural Plastic Recycle pilot program

Schiefke noted Canadians throw out three-million tonnes of plastic waste every year, the equivalent of 570 garbage bags every minute. Only nine percent is recycled, while the rest ends up in landfills, waste-to-energy facilities, or the environment, according to government research.

Plastics are among the most universally used and discarded materials in the world, which, in micro states, has been detected in sediment, groundwater, soil, indoor and outdoor air, food and drinking water.

“What’s positive about where we are today is how aligned governments, business leaders and scientists are about tackling plastic pollution,” Schiefke said. “It’s because Canadians have made it clear they want action, and they want action now.”

Provincially, Premier John Horgan committed to developing an action plan to keep plastic pollution out of B.C. landfills and waterways during his Feb. 11 throne speech.

Globally, conference panelist, Chelsea Rochman, assistant professor in ecology at the University of Toronto, and scientific advisor to Ocean Conservancy, said roughly 19 to 23 metric tonnes of plastic goes into the environment every year, which will double in the next decade with the world’s current reduction commitments.

READ MORE: Plastics industry says its products are not ‘toxic’, urges govt to rethink label

“Unless the growth in plastic production and use is halted, a fundamental transformation of the plastic economy is essential, where plastic products are valued, rather than becoming waste.”

She noted the actions needed for a circular-economy solution are mirrored by the federal government’s plan to achieve zero plastic waste by 2030, announced last week.

This includes a proposed ban on harmful single-use plastic items that have readily available alternatives, including plastic checkout bags, straws, stir sticks, six-pack rings, cutlery, and food ware made from hard-to-recycle plastics.

Walmart Canada’s president and CEO, Horacio Barbeito, who also sat on the panel, agreed with Schiefke that many private-sector businesses are committed to reducing plastics use, particularly in packaging, but said many will likely need help with incentives and innovation.

“We need to inspire entrepreneurs,” he said.

“This is, for us, just as important as creating shareholder value … you can count on us to be a part of that journey.”



quinn.bender@blackpress.ca

Just Posted

A shot from within Leah McDiarmid’s new gallery shows a sneak peak at June 13’s opening exhibit. (Leah McDiarmid photo)
New gallery promises engaging experience in Tofino

Tofino Gallery of Contemporary Art unveils inaugural exhibit on June 13

Louise Rodgers and Georgina Valk cup a handful of freshly sifted, nutrient-rich compost. The duo met about 10 years ago while their kids were in kindergarten. They saw a need for composting in Tofino so they founded Tofino Urban Farm Co. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Tofino moms turn mounds of organic waste into “Black Gold”

Curbside residential and commercial compost pickup to begin in 2022 for West Coasters

(file)
Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks thanks Tofino businesses for becoming allies

Businesses say they can play a part in reconciliation by supporting Indigenous stewardship

Ron MacDonald fields questions at a news conference in Halifax on Sept. 27, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Finding ‘comfortable’ indigenous monitor tough task in Tofino-area shooting death

Julian Jones case hampered by difficulty finding a civilian comfortable with privacy protocols

Ucluelet mayor and council will wait until further in-person engagement can take place before making their final approval regarding the draft OCP that went to public hearing on May 13. (District of Ucluelet photo)
Future public input session planned for Ucluelet’s draft OCP

“A couple little changes and some housekeeping items and we’ll get to it in September”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

Most Read